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Religious Ethics Cannot Provide Good Answers To Questions Of Sexual Ethics.Docx Uploaded

1220 words - 5 pages

‘Religious Ethics cannot provide good answers to questions of sexual ethics – a rational approach is needed’ Discuss.
The ethical theory Natural Law is based on analysing the position and purpose of humans in the universe, e.g. to defend the innocent, live in an ordered society, learn, reproduce, worship God etc, therefore it appears to be entirely reasonable; in fact Aquinas, the theory’s founder, stated 'To disparage the dictate of reason is equivalent to condemning the command of God. ' Considering the teleological thinking of natural law and analysing the purpose of the penis it seems rational to decide that using the penis for anything other than reproduction seems rationally wrong.
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Understanding that there is no being higher than the self, i.e. God, and that pleasure is good, utilitarianism concludes that achieving the greatest good for the greatest number is the ‘right’ thing to do is irrational. If ‘God is dead’, as Nietzsche argued, and pleasure is the most important thing to be sought then rationally one should seek the greatest amount of pleasure which one can for one’s self. Although utilitarianism may hold that the group is the highest and most important body, realistically if there is no duty to serve the group and there is no reward to be sought in the afterlife then this is logically absurd; one should never sacrifice one’s pleasure for anything as according to utilitarianism it is ‘good’.
A religious approach which draws parallels with utilitarianism is Situation Ethics. Emphasising the primacy of humans (personalism), the importance of consequences (pragmatism) and the need to relativise the absolute (relativism) situation ethics appears rational. Considering the issue of masturbation situation ethicists would allow one to stimulate one’s self in a situation where frustration was building and where one was not in a committed relationship, the reason for this is because it is ‘loving’. Behind the term ‘loving’ stand the principles of the theory as situation ethics is pragmatic it accounts for the realities of the situation; whilst an adult, committed, reproductive sexual act may be more desirable it is simply not possible in this situation. Allowing masturbation, however, would bring pleasure and no harm to anyone else (personalism). This does not produce a rule that masturbation is permissible, for example, if police officers were to pass around pictures of a rape victim for stimulation then situation ethics would condemn them, despite the fact that no pain is resulting from their sordid pleasure. Whilst traditional utilitarianism would not be able to criticise the police officers as pleasure is good itself, situation ethics theistic nature means that it gives what appears a more rational argument.
Considering then whether or not a religious approach to sex ethics is adequate in terms of rationality it seems that both natural law and situation ethics commands on sex issues follow on from their foundations logically. Whilst one may consider the consequences of the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception as disgusting, when viewing the logic of natural law one can see that they are not without rational consideration about the purpose of humans; if we can induce the purpose of humans then surely to carry out this purpose is to serve God and to be ‘good’. This argument can be attacked with arguments against the existence of God, however, the conflict...

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